Programming Repeater Names

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Wackodrumr

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New to HAM radio and I was wanting opinions on how most HAMs name the local repeaters into their mobiles. What works for you what did'nt work. I'm limited to 10 characters in my radio. Do you...

A: program the RX frequency, ie: "147.000"

B: program a custom name, ie: "your county/club name repeater 1, 2, 3, 4, etc."

or

C: program the repeater location, ie: "city name"

I'm not using a traditional HAM radio to begin with. I'm starting with a Kenwood TK7360HV that I use for work.
 

Brts96

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Most of the time, I'll program the city name into my vehicle radio. If needed, I'll add a digit or something else to identify which channel is which (direction, etc).

On a few channels, I've done custom names, but most of the time, the town name makes the most sense to me.

I don't know how big of an area you travel, but one idea you might like to try is to group your channels by area. That way, you can go through the channels efficiently, and still keep your attention on the road.

The method that I use is to use my home town as the center, and be able to bump through channels on the way to the next repeater.

Your mileage may vary, but it's what's seemed to work for me.

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ShawnInPaso

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The issue with programming names into a radio can cause some confusion for you unless you only have a few frequencies you're dealing with, or you don't travel much.

For example, lets say you program 20 channels and give them all names (presuming your radio doesn't allow for names and frequencies to be displayed at the same time). After a while, you'd be hard pressed to remember the frequencies behind all of those named channels. Then, when you travel outside of your immediate area and hear other repeaters, you won't know what frequency they are on.

Also, I often hear new hams on linked systems not knowing what frequency they are transmitting on for the same reason (or not knowing if they're on VHF or UHF).

I know it doesn't seem like much of an issue, but again if you travel just a little out of your immediate area it can be a hassle not knowing what frequency being used.

All that being said, if you choose names instead of freqs, using the repeaters location helps (e.g. "Toro Peak", "Black Mtn") especially if you're in an area with multiple repeaters in the same county.

Just my 2 cents.
 

Brts96

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Good points, and definitely something for the OP to consider.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I normally keep a sheet with channel numbers, repeater locations, names and frequencies in the vehicle.

Maybe the OP can put the last two or three digits of the channel name into the radio (.850, for example). Might be a good place keeping tool, if they didn't want to keep track of a paper list.

Thanks for catching that, I appreciate it.

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robertmac

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I always go by frequency and keep a cheat sheet when travelling to other places. At least with starting with a frequency, it is easy to input a Tone if required. I am not familiar with the commercial Kenwood so don't know about the display. But I do like the amateur radios that have both frequency and name showing on the same display. I don't input the city name as most cities will have more than one repeater. I do put in the repeater call sign. I agree with Shawn as I have run across people being choppy into a linked repeater. When the person is asked what repeater, they will say well this is my home repeater but I don't know the frequency. At least with a frequency, it is consistent and would tell me what repeater they are on. That is one of the advantages of having a FPP radio in that one can input a correct frequency and tone as one travels.


Banned for encouraging legal and proper use of the crappy band.
 

Wackodrumr

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Definitely great points guys. I'm putting thought into all of them. I wish this radio would allow a custom name with the frequency displayed. I didn't want to be that HAM who starts a conversation with someone, then get out of range and try to change to a specific repeater and not know the frequency/channel name to go to. I guess you could say that the good thing with this radio is I'm limited to FM/VHF only so there's not much confusion on what bands I can and can't transmit on.

We often travel out of state at least 2 or 3 times a year so I'll be putting in states we travel through and figuring out how to use the DTMF feature so I can add frequencies without programming them in on the fly.

Maybe the OP can put the last two or three digits of the channel name into the radio (.850, for example). Might be a good place keeping tool, if they didn't want to keep track of a paper list.
I like this idea. Putting the City name with the last 3 digits in so I can at least narrow things down a little easier. I put everything in Excel before I put it into programming, I'll be sure to print my frequencies off and keep them in the car with me in case I need to pull over and get my bearings.

If anyone else has any preferences on how you program the repeater names, please chime in. I want to consider everyone's opinion so I can get it right the first time and not have to go back in and change things around unless I'm adding frequencies.

Thanks again for the advice
 

jwt873

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I just use the call signs of the local repeaters. After you've used them enough, you know their location, range frequency etc.

For traveling there are apps for phones and tablets that let you quickly look up nearby repeaters based on your position while you travel. The app uses the phone/tablet GPS. Repeaterbook has apps for iOS and Android. https://www.repeaterbook.com/ It's not perfect, but better than nothing. I have the apps on my iPad and iPhone.

When I travel, I usually look up the repeaters in the area's I'll be visiting and program them into my radios. Again, I normally just use callsigns.

And.. Small thing, But there's no need to capitalize ham. It's not an acronym like FCC, GMRS, FRS, CBetc. It's just a plain word. It's nickname used to describe an amateur radio operator.
 

Wackodrumr

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I'll follow up with one more question.

Zones.

Do you all prefer them to be by County, ARES district, or all under one zone? Out of state repeaters will more than likely be under one zone.

Reason I ask is for the purpose of scanning frequencies. I can scan an entire zone or just specific frequencies.
 

jim202

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With as much travel as I do, there is no way I can keep track of what frequency goes with what location name. So I combine frequency info and location name.

An example is 6-760 GFLP for 146.760, Gulfport. If it's a 145 frequency, then I start with a 5 and if it's a 147 frequency, I start with a 7. This way I have the frequency and sort of can figure out the location.

I also have a radio that I set up in zones. Each zone can have up to 16 channels and is set up for different regions and sort of follows state areas. Depending on the number of repeaters available and where I am going to be traveling through. My radio can hold 50 zones and even with that number I run out of space. So I have multiple codeplugs to load into the radio depending on where I am.

Hope this provides you with some ideas.
 

Wackodrumr

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With as much travel as I do, there is no way I can keep track of what frequency goes with what location name. So I combine frequency info and location name.

An example is 6-760 GFLP for 146.760, Gulfport. If it's a 145 frequency, then I start with a 5 and if it's a 147 frequency, I start with a 7. This way I have the frequency and sort of can figure out the location.

I also have a radio that I set up in zones. Each zone can have up to 16 channels and is set up for different regions and sort of follows state areas. Depending on the number of repeaters available and where I am going to be traveling through. My radio can hold 50 zones and even with that number I run out of space. So I have multiple codeplugs to load into the radio depending on where I am.

Hope this provides you with some ideas.
That helps too. I was struggling with just putting in the last 3 digits and couldn't think of how to determine if it were 145, 146, 147, etc. With this radio I can do 128 frequencies per zone - 128 zones. Magic number I guess. Wish they gave me more than 10 characters for the display.

I'm thinking for scanning simplicity I think I'll put the repeaters in zones by the respective ARES district.
 

prerunner1982

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I have mine programmed to display the repeater call sign. I am familiar enough with the area and have looked at the repeater info enough times to know what repeaters are in what area. If it's a linked system with multiple repeaters under the same call sign I will program them in order of distance away from me.

If I am venturing outside of my normal area I will program a blank channel with the city or county name and then all repeaters for that area after that.

I use an Yaesu FT-8800 and with one button push it will display the frequency for that memory.
 

wrath

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Dec 18, 2005
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I have gotten spoiled , I use the Kenwood 710g which handily shows the frequency and whatever name or callsign you give it at the same time, I go back to use my older rigs and fortunately since I use the same info on all my rigs I can find it with the cryptic little 6 character tags that some of my older gear uses like my Vx5r my HT is the Kenwood 74a and has long info boxes for text and you can at the touch of a button display either the alpha tag or the frequency, the 710g is also very flexible in that it has 1000 memories so every machine from New York City to Washington D.C stays in memory ,but I also have alternate "playlists" set up on the computer for any there place I have ever been , using RT systems combined with repeater book routing makes it simple to adjust ,I also program all my rigs in asending frequency order, so if I remember the frequency but not the name it's easier to find and keeps the scan speeds as fast as possible if just scanning for a QSO somewhere , it also pays to keep some frequencies open so you can edit them and insert them on the road if you find by local info a high coverage machine you can just add it and insert it where it goes in memory rotation on all my radios , of course somethings present a challenge,like my HT is a tribander having 220 in it also fortunately or unfortunately depending on your outlook has much fewer machines, and your probably thinking the Vx5r is tribander also, yep it is but having 50 mghtz in an HT is novel but very rarely gets used. So those are my tricks asending order and rigs with larger alpha tagging as well as rigs that display both simultaneously, and standardization of memory channels across all your radios.


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Program my radios by zone. Zones are named after the closest major airport or occasionally a specific highway corridor. If there are multiple repeaters for a specific city, then I tend to either use the details and/or a shortened form of the frequency.

For example, my current arrangement looks something like this (I have a 15 character display, first 4 characters signify the zone).
AUS 860 P25
AUS 940 P25
AUS CALL
AUS 550

LBB CALL
LBB 550
LBB KF5QIR
LBB SO
LBB Fire
LBB Dot 3
LBB Crosby SO

SJT TGSO
SJT TG Fire

IOP VCALL10
IOP VTAC...
IOP VFIRE...
IOP VMED...

I also have some zones like 114 (representing Texas Highway 114's corridor between Dallas and the New Mexico state line), 84 (US 84 between Abilene and Las Vegas, NM) and a few other "frequented" corridors.

Finally a zone representing the most common repeater pairs in Texas and New Mexico with the most common PL programmed and then a handful of others in a MPL list (actually covers almost 60% of the two meter repeaters in the two states on only 20 channels). Those are all listed by frequency i.e. 147_30, 146_92).
 

rescue161

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Using the callsign of the repeaters can become confusing very quickly, especially if one callsign is used for many different repeaters. K4ITL has a LOT of repeaters under his name. I have 5 repeaters on my callsign, 4 of which are on the same tower. Stick with names of towns/areas and it will be much less confusing.

I give each channel a short name and if there is more than one in the same town, I add a portion of the frequency. Here is an example of the repeaters in our area. I put what I name them in parentheses.

Swansboro - KE4FHH - 146.760 - Analog - "SWANSBORO"
Jacksonville - WD4FVO - 145.190 - Analog - "JAX 19"
Jacksonville - NC4OC - 147.000 - Analog - "JAX 47"
Hubert - KE4FHH - 444.675 - Analog - "HUBERT"
Hubert - KE4FHH - 443.3125 - P25 - "JAX P25"
Hubert - KE4FHH - 441.8375 - DMR - "JAX PRN," "JAX LOCAL," etc.
 
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Personally, I'd find it a lot easier to come up with meaningful channel identifiers if (ham) radio manufacturers would design displays that could handle more than 6-7 characters.
Part of the reason why I say on average the amateur radio community lags behind the LMR community by 10-15 years technology wise. The 15 character display I have is on a Motorola W3 hand held control head…which has now gone out of production (replaced by the O3) but was released around 1996 (dot matrix display too). Of course, the newer dot matrix heads have larger and easier to read displays (such as the M5/O5 that was available for the XTL2500 and XTL5000 which are also now out of support and the color O series heads available for the APX radios (O2, O3, O7, O9).
 

Sporrt

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Chicago
I get by fine with 6 characters. I haven't programmed repeaters lately, but I used to enter the club name, followed by a V or U, for VHF or UHF.

CFMC-V
CFMC-U
NSRC-V
etc.
 

Wackodrumr

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Thanks for everyone's advice.

With only being able to use 10 characters, I've decided to do program a district (state ARES system) as a zone. Within those zones I'm going to use the first three letters of the county followed by the frequency. Example:

Johnson County - 146.8500 = JOH146_850

There are a lot of repeaters in my area where there is one coordinator for several repeaters. That kind of messes things up for using the call sign of that repeater. Using the city I'm closest to, for me, is harder to remember rather than which county I'm in. The radio I have allows me to add a whole zone in the scan function just by holding a button down for 2 sec, that'll help when I get to a certain district I can just switch over and start scanning multiple counties at once.

I'm glad I got such a good response from everyone. Like most beginners in the ham community, it's bad enough to learn by trial and error on our own. Having these ideas in a forum helps make less mistakes and less work fixing them. Thanks again.
 

hill

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I use the repeaters callsign. I only have 2m and 70cm FM gear, so if they have also have uhf repeater will add /U to the callsign to denote it.

I have many repeaters programmed into my mobile, the HT's, plus the work truck radio, but only use a few of them, so know which frequencies this is.
 

N0GTG

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Denver, Colorado
I program by county outside the metro area, and if on an Interstate highway, in the order that I would access them as I travel. You could even use the highway as a zone name, and a repeater could be programmed in multiple zones if it fits your plan.

Many hams refer to frequencies in shorthand; 146.88 could be referred to as '688'; 147.225 could be '225', etc., and I like to use these as alpha tags with the sponsoring club ID, such as 'CRA 225. You could also use these digits with the site name, or an abbreviation for the site name.

On scanners that support 'channel numbers', such as the Uniden 396/996 and x36 series, I use these shorthand freqs as channel numbers. That's very handy to quickly go to a freq. On an HT or mobile with lots of channels, you could do the same.

For 146.94 on a radio with 100+ channels, it could be in channel 94. On a radio with a limited number of channels, I add the significant digits to equal an available channel number; i.e., I add the last 2 digits (94) together to equal 13, and put it in that channel. That works for me.
 
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